Fluid Logic: the effluence and the affluence behind urban water efficiency paradigms

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    We bottle it, we flush it, we drink it, we defecate in it, we swim in it. We pay to have it delivered and pay to have it taken away. We can’t live without it but can’t abide it when we’ve used it. We demand our potable water to be pathologically pure, yet routinely douse it in chemicals marked as poisons. Our current relationship with water is complex, irrational, historically specific, ideologically shaped; a complex hydro-social configuration that defies logic. As a result, the potable water resources which continue to underpin political economies relationally bind together public and private domains. Water use is personal and political; material, corporeal, cultural, social and spiritual interconnections which shape ourselves as humans and our relations with others and our environments. Understanding how these tropes of hydrosocial relationships remake themselves reveals the power dynamics which shape the control of capital. This paper explores one element of this relationship through exploring the monetisation of the concept of waste prevention within current neoliberal practices of water provision. Within the English water sector water efficiency initiatives are heralded as an essential component of demand lead water security. Those water companies within water stressed regions are required to promote water efficiency technologies and practises; including consumer mindfulness of water use. However, water bills are mostly disaggregated from consumption; instead they are predicated on how much the water companies invest and whether this capital is raised through equity or debt over a five year cycle. Water users are therefore asked to prevent water wastage on environmental justice grounds, but with no tangible monetary savings for them and significant investment in infrastructure networks. The water companies benefit by less resource ‘output’ coupled with an enhanced ‘corporate social responsibility’ profile; especially vital as the domestic English water market opens to competition. This paper explores how the financialisation of the water sector consequentially distorts human-nature relationships even further, with ‘water efficiency’ as a synecdoche for continued profiteering
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)21-25
    JournalLo Squaderno
    Issue number1
    Publication statusAccepted/In press - 28 Jun 2019


    • Water Efficiency
    • Financialisation
    • effluence
    • hydrosocial
    • neoliberalism


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